Fish Bytes

Marlins dealing with scoring struggles 90 feet at a time

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly (8) talks to an umpire from the dugout during a spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tues., March 7, 2017, in Jupiter, Fla.
Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly (8) talks to an umpire from the dugout during a spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tues., March 7, 2017, in Jupiter, Fla. AP

Marlin manager Don Mattingly abhors bad baserunning.

It eats at his craw. It turns his stomach. It causes him to shake his head in dismay.

“Happened the other day,” Mattingly said. “It was the Houston game. Second and third, they were down three or four runs, a line drive to second base, and the guy gets doubled up by 10 feet.”

Inning-ending double play. Can’t happen.

And if Mattingly gets his way, it will happen less often this season for the Marlins. Mattingly has put an emphasis on improved baserunning, hoping that it will lead to more runs and, in turn, more wins.

“Little things that can cost you an out, cost you a run and cost you a game,” he said.

The Marlins ranked 27th in the majors in runs scored last season. Bad baserunning wasn’t entirely to blame for the team’s scoring struggles. Poor situational hitting was the primary culprit.

In fact, the Marlins fared better than most in the baserunning department. According to baseballreference.com, only two teams had fewer runners identified as “out on base,” examples of which include being doubled off on a line drive and being thrown out trying to advance a base on a fly ball or hit.

Still, Mattingly believes the Marlins need to do a better job on the base paths. And he said baserunning skills have steadily regressed over the years throughout the majors.

“No question,” he said. “It’s all over the league. I’d tell [bench coach Tim Wallach] while sitting on the bench, ‘I’m tired of complaining about it myself. So if I don’t do something about it, it’s my fault.’ ”

After last season, Mattingly told Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill that he intended to ramp on baserunning instruction during spring training.

“I told Mike and them, I’m tired of complaining about it,” he said. “I’m going to try to do something.”

Mattingly had the Marlins video staff put together an instructional tape showing both good and bad examples of baserunning. He enlisted the services of veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, an outstanding baserunner, to offer comment.

“We’ve emphasized baserunning period,” he said. “We just tried a little different approach this year. We put a video together, just kind of a template for baserunning. It’s nothing guys haven’t done. We just think more visual learning will help us more than just talking it.”

ROJAS PLUNKED

Miguel Rojas was dazed when struck in the head with a thrown ball on Tuesday and was scheduled to undergo a concussion test.

“I was feeling dizzy and kind of uncomfortable,” Rojas said.

Rojas was playing shortstop when the throw by catcher Tomas Telis on a stolen-base attempt skipped off the turf and struck him in the head. Rojas was on the ground for about a minute before getting up and returning to the clubhouse for treatment.

“I was trying to block the ball, keep it in front of me,” Rojas said. “The hop was weird, hit me on the side of the head.”

Rojas said he probably could have continued playing had it been a regular-season game. But because it’s spring training, he thought it best to be safe and left the game.

“I could have played,” Rojas said. “But it’s something you have to take care of.”

▪ Catcher A.J. Ellis is close to returning from a hamstring injury. “We’re thinking after this off day [Wednesday], that we’ll be pretty close to him looking like a regular guy again,” Mattingly said. “So he’ll starting up building toward games without any setbacks.”

▪ Reliever Brad Ziegler left camp for a couple of days in order to attend to a family matter.

COMING UP

▪ Wednesday: No game.

▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters at Washington Nationals TBA, 1:05 p.m., West Palm Beach.

  Comments